Frequently Asked Questions about GA-FIT Drought SWAP
The Georgia Flow Incentive Trust (GA-FIT) is a project designed to develop and implement innovative drought response tools to protect Georgia’s streams while also protecting the economic well-being of Southwest Georgia farmers. The project is capitalizing on recent data and research to design a more targeted, quantified, and effective approach to agricultural water management during drought. GA-FIT was launched in 2022 with an initial focus on incentives for voluntary irrigation suspension in the Ichawaynochaway Creek Basin.
In 2022, an American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) grant funded an expansion of GA-FIT to include several new drought management tools for the Lower Flint River Basin. A big piece of this grant is funding for the development of alternatives to surface water supplies for farmers during drought -- the new Drought Source Water Alternatives Program (Drought SWAP). During drought, surface water use has a direct impact on instream flows, and low flows create adverse conditions for natural aquatic communities and downstream water users. This new program will install deep groundwater wells that farmers can use as an alternative water supply source during drought.
The ARPA grant is also funding several other data collection, monitoring and policy development programs that will greatly improve drought resilience in the region.
The new Drought SWAP program will be drilling new wells for farmers in the Lower Flint River Basin. There will be limitations on where these new wells can be sited and when they can be used:
- New wells will be installed where farmers currently rely on direct surface water withdrawals for irrigation water.
- New wells will be located in the Lower Flint River Basin (project area map).
- Applications will be prioritized based on a number of factors including the amount of acreage, anticipated groundwater availability, availability of storage (farm ponds), and other factors to optimize water management options during drought.
- New wells will be permitted by Georgia EPD for use only during drought periods and will substitute for use of the surface water withdrawal during that time.
Applications for Drought SWAP are currently open and will be accepted through October 31, 2023. This follows on the first round for applications in 2022. We received many applications during the 2022 application period, but we expect to have capacity for more participants and therefore, we are inviting additional applications.
Wells will be installed as alternative sources for irrigated fields in the Lower Flint River Basin. A map of the project area can be found here.
Your application is a first step in the process. The GA-FIT team will be reviewing preliminary applications and prioritizing sites for implementation during the next six months. Drought SWAP is a large project and, given the anticipated interest and availability of resources, it will be several years before all wells are installed. The GA-FIT team will work to keep applicants informed about program progress and the status of applications. The project is targeting field installations from 2023 to 2026.
If we need more information as we review your application, a GA-FIT team member will reach out to you, so please be sure to include current contact information.
If your application is selected for an installation, the GA-FIT team will work with you to help you understand the process, which will include administrative and permitting steps as well as field visits to your property. Our team will try to make the process as clear and simple as possible.
Drought SWAP is funded by a grant from the American Recovery Plan Act for infrastructure development. Implementation is led by the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center at Albany State University, in partnership with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council. More information about this project can be found in this press release.